Everyone hears advice from doctors or nutritional experts about eating healthily, but many people struggle to make it a priority. Understanding some of the facts behind the concept of healthy eating, more so than hearing about abstract terms such as calories and nutrients, may motivate people to stick with a healthy diet. Along with getting exercise and not smoking, eating right is the most obvious way to help your chances of avoiding serious health issues.
Facts - The healthiest foods include vegetables, especially dark-green leafy and deep-yellow varieties; citrus fruits, melons and berries; pulses, such as lentils, red beans, soybeans and chickpeas; wholegrain breads and cereals; low-fat dairy products; and fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat. These foods provide the nutrients you need with minimal saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium. In combination with regular physical activity, following a diet with these foods as staples will help you lead a healthy lifestyle.
Benefits - According to the U.S. National Health Information Centre, you can prevent or diminish the severity of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and osteoporosis by eating the right kinds of foods in the right quantities. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily helps protect against some forms of cancer and reduces your risk of heart disease.
Function - Healthy eating serves your body in various ways. For example, whole grains are complex carbohydrates that supply needed energy without spiking blood sugar and insulin. Controlling blood sugar and insulin helps you avoid feeling hungry and may prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Healthy fats improve cholesterol, especially compared with highly processed carbohydrates, and may protect against sudden cardiac arrhythmia. Fruits and vegetables boost your intestinal health and vision and contain antioxidants such as Vitamin C that help your immune system fight disease and inflammation.
Considerations - Healthy eating may save you money. The surest way to eat healthily is to prepare home-cooked meals rather than eat out, especially at fast-food restaurants. Buying healthy food at the supermarket typically is significantly cheaper than dining at a restaurant. For instance a family of four can eat meals that meet established dietary guidelines for £87 a week. Bringing a family of four to virtually any restaurant just once or twice a week, or even getting takeout, would push the budget quite a bit higher.
Misconceptions - Some foods are healthy despite their reputations. Certain foods that have a high amount of fat, such as peanut butter or vegetable oil, may provide ample benefits in moderation if the fats are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Eggs - even egg yolks - provide quality protein and good fats, according to a Harvard School of Public Health report, and their high level of cholesterol is not a big issue except to people with diabetes or heart disease. While calorie counting has some merit, you can make it less of a priority and consume larger quantities if you concentrate on eating healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry and eggs.